Despite the stated commitment to better education of the Government and the opposition parties, the essential role of libraries in the sphere of education is increasingly ignored. Local councils of all political complexions are closing libraries and cutting back library services without regard to the educational and cultural needs of residents, schools and older students.
In the survey of the UK book trade, reported by the Independent yesterday, it was stated that there has been an 18 per cent drop in the number of books taken out of UK libraries over the past 10 years. Does this, as I suspect, correlate with the rundown of library services?
It is to be hoped that Peter Brooke, the new Secretary of State for National Heritage, will act decisively to stop the terminal decline of public libraries. It is also to be hoped that all councils (including such Labour-controlled councils as Islington) will refrain from closing libraries. Although it is understandably difficult for councillors to make the hard decisions necessitated by financial cuts, libraries should be protected, since they are indeed a 'creator of true wealth'.
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